Sunday 16 December 2012

Celebrating home of unusual art with Love

IT was a double celebration for the Lagos art community as Sabo, Yaba-based Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA), marked its five years of promoting new media in Nigerian art space, and also, facilitated Lagos end of a three-venues show: Menil Collection, Houston and Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, St Louis.

For the Bisi Silva-led CCA end of the international project were Jelili Atiku, Andrew Esiebo, Temitayo Ogunbiyi and Adaora Nwandu (Nigeria), Wura-Natasha Ogunji (US), Valerie Oka (Cote d’Ivoire) and Zanele Muholi (South Africa).
Director of Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA), Lagos, Bisi Silva (middle) joined by local and visiting artists during the centre's fifth year anniversary
The Lagos show opened few months ago with the Ivorian artist, Oka, whose latest work brought graphic expression of love into art space via video, installation, drawing and sculpture.

In print, Ogunbiyi took another side of love, probing into the exchange of SMS by lovers. From her various encounters come volumes of exchanges, mostly with other people.

Ogunbiyi, who came back home from her over 20 years sojourn in the U.S, says the way people communicate via SMS here, generally fascinates her. And with The Progress of Love project, she got more curious and “found out that people here like long texts in expressing love.” Personally, “few letters are enough for me,” she discloses.

For Atiku, his expression of love comes in volumes, but not in the romantic context; it’s a memorial kind as he remembers his late father whom “I never knew or met.” The letter, which took quite a space of the CCA gallery was addressed to ‘Baba Mi Owon’ (My Dear Father) and sent to a spiritual or imaginary address ‘Abule Korobiti’.

Atiku hopes to make a performance out of the letter at his Ejigbo base, a Lagos suburb on December 27.

Also, Ogunji shares her thought via video installation in a rather emotional, but non-romantic way of expressing love.

On the controversial side of love stands Esiebo’s video work, which looks gay romance.

Though Muholi and Nwandu were not present, their video works backed up by Silva’s narration offered deeper perspective into the diversity of physical and emotive expression of love. 

Clearly the longest exhibited, among the works, Oka’s bed installation, video and drawings were still on. The work depicts hot exchanges between a man and his woman victim, showing the painful side of pleasure some women go through while seeking or expressing love.
AT the St Louis wing of the event, two Nigerian-born artists, Yinka Shonibare (MBE) and Zino Saro-Wiwa (daughter of the executed playwright, Ken Saro-Wiwa), according to sources, featured in The Progress of Love.

The whole concept, says the curator, Silva, is “for me to bring diverse expression of love to the public glare.”
Director of CCA, Lagos Bisi Silva

And whatever controversy or issue arises on anybody’s expression of love, she argues is out of her scope “to judge which acts or art is taboo or not.”

Co-curator, Taye Idahor, notes the dynamism in contemporary methods of the artists’ concept of love and enthuses, “it’s a great experience working on the project.”
IN 2007, CCA opened to a Nigerian art scene reluctant of leaping into the world of new media. And quite thoughtful, the centre actually debuted with a trilogy, which featured, separately, the works of Lemi Ghariokwu, George Osodi and Ndidi Dike shown over several months from December 2007 to April 2008.  

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